Tea parties, IRS excuses and other taxing strategies

As tax day once again casts a pall across the land, a collection of supposedly spontaneous tax protests have swept the country. Meanwhile, ordinary taxpayers are falling victim, once again, to the belief that there are legitimate ways to get out of paying one's debt to society. While the sun sets on America's national day of responsibility, it's worthwhile to take a deep breath and think about the one day when every American is called to national duty.

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, has announced that more than 2,000 so-called "Tea Parties" are scheduled to take place over the course of this week. These events, inspired by Rick Santelli's famous rant on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade, are designed to protest tax increases. Of course, the Obama administration recently unveiled one of the largest tax cuts in history, but Norquist claims that these "very sophisticated" protests are in anticipation of tax increases that will likely come about because of current spending.

In other words, the tea parties are actually protests over increased government spending, but are being tenuously tied to future tax increases. They are, moreover, being carried out on a day when most Americans are enjoying a significant tax cut. One can't help but think that this tortured reasoning is inspired less by logic than by a conservative political agenda.

In actuality, today's tax protests seem to be covering a wide variety of political perspectives and grudges, including demonstrations against public employee cuts in New Hampshire. However, conservative politicians and organizations have made a concerted effort to claim both responsibility and philosophical leadership over the events. Newt Gingrich's American Solutions is involved, as are conservative advocacy groups Let Freedom Ring and the Institute for Liberty. Unsurprisingly, GOP stars, including Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and House Minority Leader John Boehner all found time this week to either advocate or speak at some of the supposedly independent protests.

Meanwhile, many Americans are attempting a less organized, more personal form of revolt by choosing to either underpay or completely ignore their taxes. Ironically, this year's cabinet confirmation hearings have beautifully demonstrated not only the dangers of tax evasion, but also the popularity of the crime. Walletpop's Tracy Coenen, a forensic accountant, has detailed some of the most common tax excuses, including those evergreen favorites "the IRS is not an agency of the United States," "income tax laws are unconstitutional," and my personal favorite, "my religion prohibits me from paying taxes."

For those who wish to undertake a more exhaustive study of tax stupidity, Madtbone offers 200 classic tax excuses, along with the court cases that ruled against them. If this isn't enough inspiration for those who are on the fence about paying taxes, Coenen offers case studies of some of the most famous tax scandals and a brief analysis of the penalties involved in tax evasion.

Happy tax day!
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